Although two-thirds of Oregon’s land is located east of the Cascades Mountains, the region is often overlooked by politicians seeking statewide office. To address that concern, several organizations have banded together to sponsor what they have dubbed the “One Oregon” gubernatorial debate, which will be hosted by the City Club of Central Oregon. Other sponsors include the Technology Association of Oregon and the chambers of commerce in Bend, Redmond, Sisters, Madras, LaPine, and Prineville.
According to the letter invitation that went to major candidates:
“Oregon is one state with people who work together to solve common problems. That said, Central and Eastern Oregonians also face some unique challenges when it comes to tourism, rural infrastructure, economic development, healthcare, and jobs. It is our sincere hope that both major party gubernatorial candidates will recognize the concerns and contributions of all Oregonians. The rocky divide between East and West should be geographic, not economic or political.”
Although this will be the first gubernatorial debate hosted by the City Club of Central Oregon, the organization has hosted many past debates as well as each of Oregon’s governors since its inception. Governor Brown, who spoke in March of 2016, drew a record-breaking crowd. According to City Club’s president, Liisa Sjoblom, “You will not find a fairer, more politically diverse, or more civil audience than City Club. We sincerely believe that this debate will help Oregonians on both sides of the political and geographic divide to be a part of the state-wide democratic process. Participation is important for the winning candidate to unite the state after November.”
The One Oregon Debate is also important for other regional candidates appearing on the ticket in the major parties. According to Joey Drucker, Executive Director of the City Club of Central Oregon, “Central and Eastern Oregonians have their own unique problems generated by the demographic and economic characteristics of this region. It is important for Oregon’s Governor to represent the entire state and not just those living in the Willamette Valley. Voters here will be thrilled to see major candidates on the same stage to decide who has the best plan to bring equal representation and prosperity to the whole state.”
Although Republican challenger Knute Buehler has accepted the invitation to the debate, sponsors are still awaiting final confirmation from Governor Brown. The City Club Board is committed to the notion that Central and Eastern Oregonians should have a say in statewide politics through participation in a candidate debate for the highest office in our state. They intend to provide that opportunity. The board has confirmed that the debate will go forward even if one of the major candidates chooses not to attend. City Club will endeavor to accommodate candidates’ schedules to maximize participation and value.
The debate is scheduled to take place at the Riverhouse Convention Center in Bend from 9 am to Noon on October 1, 2018. This event will be open to members of the general public who register to attend. We have further invited full media coverage to ensure dissemination of the proceedings.
Historically, Central Oregon debates have been a feature of Oregon’s governor races. The last such debate was held 20 miles south of Bend in Sunriver in 2014. Sponsors of the One Oregon debate believe it is important for the candidates to visit and debate the issues on both sides of the Cascades Range and to address the many issues facing Oregonians who live beyond just the I-5 corridor.
About City Club of Central Oregon
City Club of Central Oregon exists to be the top-of-mind hub for citizens and community leaders. We intentionally shape our community and influence public policy while preserving our uniquely warm and connected culture. We champion “passionately non-partisan” discussion between diverse perspectives.